In the summer of 2018 I started what I still consider to be my favourite ever Football Manager save. During the buzz of the World Cup (you know, when Trippier scored that free-kick that’s still on your Twitter timeline every single day and people started chucking beer on pub ceilings), I took my first ever long-term foray into international management, with Canada.
The save lasted me until the end of FM18, and by the time I moved on I had taken the Canadian national team to multiple World Cups, with generations of icons coming and going. Our first ever Gold Cup-winning squad is filled with players that are still etched into my FM memory.
Even in saves on FM20 I still check up on the careers of Samuel Piette, our long-serving captain, Jonathan Osorio, the man who won us the Gold Cup, Milan Borjan, our most capped player, or Anthony Jackson-Hamel, who under my management became Canada’s all-time leading goalscorer.
These are FM heroes to me, even if none of them agreed to join me in the third division of Croatian football in FM19 (I was bitter at the time but I’m over it now, they had bigger fish to fry, I get it.).
Now, as we come into the home stretch of Football Manager 2020, I am going to be going back into the North American international management scene. This time however, I will be starting one-hundred places lower than Canada in the FIFA rankings.
Coaching Cuba sees me take over the Cuban national team, who currently sit one-hundred and seventy-ninth in the world rankings. Taking on the North American big guns of Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica and the even bigger guns of the USA, my job is to make Cuba a footballing force in the continent, and beyond.
So, with a Cuban league update from the steam workshop added (link can be found at the end of this post), we have ourselves a full squad of players to start off our Cuban journey. All that was left was for me to take down my Scott Arfield poster, cover up my red maple leaf tattoo, and move to the beautiful Havana.
A History of Cuba (… well the football bits)
The Cuban national football team’s history began in March 1930, with a 3-1 victory over Jamaica. In the following ninety years, the Leones del Caribe (Lions of the Caribbean) have soared as high as forty-sixth in the FIFA world rankings.
The national side has reached just one World Cup finals, eight years after their formation in 1938. Held in France, the lions beat Romania in their round of sixteen match, before being eliminated at the hands of Sweden after an 8-0 drubbing in Antibes.
With one-hundred-and-twenty-six national appearances, Yénier Márquez is Cuba’s most capped player. The defender wore the shirt for the final time in 2015, in a CONCACAF Gold Cup win over Guatemala. Lester Moré’s twenty-nine goals for the national team makes him the country’s highest ever goal scorer.
The Cuban senior squad is one of predominantly home-based players. However, the three highest value players that I will have at my disposal all play their football abroad. Jorge Luis Corrales is a twenty-eight-year-old left back, who plays his club football at Montreal Impact in the MLS. Born in Camagüey, the full back has made thirty-four appearances for his country, scoring one goal. His experience at both international, and club level, will be vital for the construction of our defence.
Our second most valuable player will be Frank López. The twenty-four-year-old striker has recently joined Oklahoma City (OKC Energy) in the States, after successful spells with San Antonio and LA Galaxy II. The Cienfuegos born centre forward is yet to be capped by Cuba, but this is sure to change as we take over the national team.
Finally, we have nineteen-year-old goalkeeper Christian Joel. Another uncapped Cuban national team option, Joel is a product of Spanish club Sporting Gijón’s youth academy, currently playing for their B team in the lower leagues of Spain. An emerging goalkeeping prospect, Joel will surely make the number one spot his own as we go through the save.
The rest of the squad is filled with home-based Cuban talent, with experiences internationals like Yasmany López, and up and coming Cuban league prospects such as Atlético Venezuela’s winger Gil Cordovés. This squad is sure to offer challenges, as well as great opportunities, as we begin our adventure in North American international football.
With just one World Cup appearance, and one Caribbean Cup win to celebrate, the Cuban national team is in need of some glory.
Taking my experience of North American international management, I will attempt to replicate my success with Canada (just without the help of Junior Hoilett), steering Cuba to Gold Cup contention, and hopefully World Cup qualification.
Our first assignment will be the North American Nations League, offering us an early chance to battle off against the best in our region. We will also have an early opportunity to get battered 8-0 by USA, really setting the expectations as low as possible for the rest of our stint.
Presuming we don’t get sacked within one or two international fixtures, the Coaching Cuba blog save is sure to be a long-term adventure, with highs, lows, wins, losses, and the occasional anti-Trump’s USA joke.
If that sounds good to you, then be sure to look out for the next post in the series. Thank you very much for reading!
Link to the Cuban National League update: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1947662317&searchtext=cuba